Since it's been awhile to blog I thought I could recap some important beer related activities since my last post. In general 2013 has been a busy year for travel with some great events scattered around the globe. Our participation in Copenhagen Beer Celebration in early May was absolutely amazing! The beers we presented were received well and people were generally surprised with the quality of Chinese craft beer. It was fun to try some beers from some top-notch breweries like 3 Floyds, Anchorage Brewing, Surly, Firestone Walker, Lervig, 8 Wired and of course Mikkeller. We were invited to participate in 2014 but are unable to attend do to some projects underway (more info later in this blog) and some international travel dates already on the calendar. After that we had Shanghai Beer Week and the Sinan Mansions Beer Festival in late May. Both events smashed attendance from the previous year with everyone having a great time at the Sinan Mansions Beer Festival. In June I was invited to judge at Beerfest Asia in Singapore. This event has also grown in attendance with the beer competition exploding to nearly 450 entries. Needless to say it was a rough 3 days judging beer. Unfortunately Boxing Cat Brewery didn't pick up any medals but the categories we entered into weren't exactly suited for our American-style beers. The beer festival site is near the Singapore Flyer and it was a grand time hanging out with a few other Shanghai brewers plus some brewing mates from New Zealand and Australia. Later in June we participated in the Beijing Craft Beer Festival held at Galaxy Soho in Beijing. The 2nd annual festival was massive and we didn't bring nearly enough beer. Each day of the 2 day beer festival we ran out of beer within 4 hours. Not so great but it did allow me to mingle and try some other beers available. It was fun to see more breweries in attendance and see the level of craft beer in China is really on the rise. The following month in the brewery was busy due to Summer beer sales. We installed a new 20 HL Bright Beer Tank to increase our production capacity. This was a fun undertaking to get into our brewery let alone stand the tank upright. Eventually some riggers were brought in to get the tank upright and get the tank into service.
The Summer rush was full on as we also committed to participate in the Dalian International Beer Festival held in Liaoning Province. In late July we travelled to Dalian for the 16 day beer festival. It's one of the largest beer festivals in China and the world so we had high hopes. We had an 800 square meter beer garden and shared the space with our brewing friends at Great Leap Brewing and Le Ble d'Or. To provide a unique experience the 3 breweries also brewed a collaborative wheat beer at the Le Ble d'Or brewery in Suzhou. We called this beer Wet Dreamer Wheat in English and brewed 5,000 liters for the festival. Unfortunately the attendance at our Craft Beer Garden was very low. We took a chance on this opportunity and realized that the big beer festivals in China are not ready for craft beer yet. In the end the most popular booths were the HUGE international brands that featured live music, neon lights and beer girls under a very big enclosed booth. At least we gave it a shot....Here are a few pics to help get my point across.
Halfway during the 16 day beer festival I headed to New Zealand for some beer judging. This was a huge honor and my first trip south of the equator. It was an absolute blast with some amazing beers brewed with local kiwi hops. It really opened my eyes to these lovely hops and how versatile they can be in a multitude of beer styles. The hospitality of the New Zealand Brewers Guild was also world class. All I can say is that you have a chance to visit NZ you should definitely go. You should also make sure you give yourself some extra days to explore both islands and see some of the diverse geography of this nation. In early August I returned home to Shanghai after a hectic 3 weeks of travel. Luckily the brewery was purring smoothly along amongst some record breaking heat in Shanghai. The weather was above 40C for 8 days straight and became the hottest Summer in Southern China since they began taking record 150 years ago! After some time in the brewery I took some vacation rest and headed back to see family in the US. It was a great trip to the PNW and I was lucky to see a few breweries and enjoy some wonderful beer. While in the US the results for the International Beer Competition in Tokyo were announced with Boxing Cat Brewery picking up bronze medals for Contender Extra Pale Ale and Sucker Punch Pale Ale. A nice surprise and recognition for our brewery!
As soon as I got back I had a few days rest before the Kerry Parkside Beer Festival. This one-day beer festival was well attended with some great beers available for beer lovers. It was nice beer festival and allowed our new hire in the brewery to meet some people in the local brewing industry. The rest of September saw us brewing regularly as we experience an increase in beer sales during the Fall all the way until Christmas. In October the 2nd annual Shanghai International Beer Festival was held along the HuangPu River. The 3 day festival was exhausting for vendors but the attendance this year was massive. The entire site was near capacity on Saturday with approximately 12,000 people in attendance. The weather for this festival was pretty good and as you an see the setting is rather unique.
After a couple weeks of recovery we had our annual Halloween Bash at the Sinan Mansions location. This party is always a great time but it also coincides with my arrival to Shanghai in 2010. It's amazing that I've been in Shanghai for 3 years already! I've had a wonderful time in the city I now call home and have met some fantastic people. The departure of some friends has been a bit rough in 2013 but it's the realization that the city is a bit transient. Luckily I've stayed in contact with most of these special people and even hear a few of them are returning to Shanghai....very excited to see Ron, Juni and Jennings in the next couple weeks!
The last month we've been cranking out beers at the brewery with some brands such as Mark & Cate's "Catcher" Rye IPA, King Louie Imperial Stout, Black EyePA, Southpaw Winter Warmer and a new beer called Roshambo Session IPA. We're also brewing a new gingerbread beer called Ginger Baker Beatdown. This will give us an extra Holiday Ale for Christmas and provide some good Winter memories. We're also knee deep in construction on a new brewpub. This brewpub will feature a brewery inside so I've been rather busy during the Fall months working on the design of the brewing space and working closely with our preferred equipment provider. Last week I was able to visit HGM Machinery in Ningbo to inspect our equipment and I was very pleased with the quality of work. Take a look for yourself!
This new brewery is a slightly different concept from Boxing Cat Brewery as the food menu will be much different. We'll also have more taps with a nice selection of BCB core beers plus some unique house brewed beers. I'm really looking forward to opening this new space! Hopefully we'll be able to get the first brews underway prior to Chinese New Year as we're targeting an opening date after Chinese New Year. Opening something near CNY can always be interesting as much of the countries labor force takes time off to travel to their home city. In the end it's nearly a month with people in limbo so the impact on getting anything done can be substantial. Anyway....I'll post some progress as we move the brewing equipment in and get it running. Until then may your pint glass be full of delicious beer!